SOUTH East Limerick is going to be included on the Ireland’s Ancient East tourist trail, it was confirmed this Wednesday.
Sites like Lough Gur, the Grange Stone Circle, the Ballyhoura Cycling Trails and the Kilmallock Dominican Friary will be included in Failte Ireland’s latest tourism trail.
The tourist body hopes the new route, which focuses on 5,000 years of history, will emulate the success of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Launched last year, this route largely bypasses Limerick, save for a spur to Foynes.
However, it appears the Ballyhoura region will have an influential role to play in Ireland’s Ancient East.
South East Limerick will join attractions like Clonmacnoise, Wicklow Gaol, Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile, Waterford’s Viking Quarter and Hook Head lighthouse on the trail.
The inclusion follows two years of work from Ballyhoura Development and Ballyhoura Failte.
Carmel Fox, the chief executive of Ballyhoura Development said: “It’s wonderful news. A key element which has given us a good foundation in this area is that we already have 42 tour guides trained. There is a good ‘people infrastructure’, as well as our 5,000-plus years of heritage.”
While she acknowledges tourists will head for the well-known sites, Ms Fox hopes some of the villages get a boost as a result.
Fianna Fail councillor Mike Donegan said the move will put South East Limerick “on the national, if not the international map”.
He put a motion down at the meeting urging the council to call on Failte Ireland to include Lough Gur and the wider Ballyhoura area.
“Limerick has been sidelined and we cannot allow it to happen again,” he said.
Seconding the motion, Sinn Fein councillor Seamus Browne said: “We did not take advantage of the Wild Atlantic Way and I do not think we should be caught out again. I would urge the council to adopt this motion.”
A council official said that the chief executive of the local authority Conn Murray had himself made contact with Failte Ireland supporting the inclusion of the area.
“We are working to a positive outcome,” they said.